New York Local Raided in Racketeering Probe

N.Y. prosecutors have reportedly launched a racketeering probe of a Queens local whose members run the cranes and other earth-moving equipment at site of the World Trade Ctr. massacre. The N.Y. State Organized Crime Task Force agents turned up at Int’l Union of Operating Eng’rs Local 14’s offices on Jan. 8 and carted off documents and payroll records. The raid was the first action taken in a new probe into reports that mid-level union bosses allegedly doled out no-show jobs, shook down contractors, and engaged in other traditional labor racketeering crimes. Local 14’s offices were shut down for more than an hour as agents loaded records into a van. One boss who asked agents for a search warrant was reportedly put up against a wall and frisked. Seized documents reportedly included bank, pension, and annuity fund records. [N.Y. Post 1/13/02]

Texan Indicted for $35,100 Theft
Linda Chargois, ex-office secretary of Laborers’ Int’l Union of N. Am. Local 80 in Houston, was indicted Jan. 9 on 29 counts of embezzling $35,171.10. She allegedly stole the funds in 29 transactions from Feb. 1998 to July 2000. Arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 24, and U.S. Dist. Judge Richard A. Schell (E.D. Tex., Reagan) has been assigned the case . [DOL 1/9/02; USAO E.D.Tex. 1/18/02]

Pennsylvania Man Indicted for $16,500 Theft
Walter J. Agnew, Jr., was charged Dec. 5 with embezzling about $16,562.12 in funds, property, and other assets of the United Steelworkers/Upholsterers Int’l Union Pension Trust in E. Pa. The assets of the employee benefit fund were protected by ERISA and were to be held in trust for the exclusive purpose of providing benefits to participants and beneficiaries.

Agnew, as a mail room operator, allegedly used the Trust’s prepaid U.S. Postal Serv. postage meter to print postage labels for outgoing mail. Allegedly, he purposely printed erroneous postage labels in amounts in excess of the amount of required postage for certain outgoing mail. He then presented the erroneous postage labels to the U.S. Postal Serv. for reimbursement to the Plan. He allegedly converted the refunded postage money to his own use and did not remit it to the Trust. The alleged embezzlement ran from Dec. 1996 to Apr. 1998. [USAO E.D. Pa. 12/5/01]

Probation for New York Boss’ $8,900 Theft
On Dec. 20, Laura Greco, ex-treasurer of Am. Fed’n of State, County & Mun. Employees Local 1501 in NYC was sentenced in the N.Y. State Supreme Court for the County of N.Y., on charges of grand larceny for embezzling $8,965 in union funds. As a result of a plea bargaining agreement, she was sentenced to five years probation and was required to pay $5,000 restitution. [DOL 12/20/01]

Rhode Island Fund Trustees to Repay $24,000
U.S. Dist. Judge Ronald R. Lagueux (D.R.I., Reagan) ordered the trustees of the Int’l Bhd. of Elec. Workers Local Union 99 Health & Welfare Fund Jan. 11 to repay $24,000 to cover improper benefit payments. A suit, filed in May 2001 by the Dep’t of Labor claimed the board of trustees had violated a law protecting employee pension and welfare benefit plans. Allegedly, from Jan. 1994 and Dec. 31, 1995, trustees of for the Providence, R.I., based  fund failed to adequately ensure the accuracy of employee eligibility data. As a result, payments were made to seven ineligible people. Lagueux’s judgment also bars the defendants from committing similar infractions in the future. [Providence J.-Bull. 1/12/02]